Juan R. Torruella bigraphy, stories - American judge

Juan R. Torruella : biography

June 7, 1933 -

Juan Rafael Torruella del Valle, Sr. (born June 7, 1933) is a Puerto Rican jurist, who currently serves as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He is the first and to date only Hispanic to serve in that court. He was born in 1933 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Sailing career

Torruella competed for in four Olympic Sailing events:

  • 1964: Enoshima in the Finn (31st)
  • 1968: Acapulco in the Flying Dutchman (28th)
  • 1972: Kiel in the Flying Dutchman (27th)
  • 1976: Kingston in the Soling (22th)


Legal career

Torruella began his career in private practice in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1959. In 1974, President Gerald Ford nominated Torruella to serve as a judge of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. In this court Torruella served as Chief Judge from 1982 to 1984.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan elevated Judge Torruella to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He was confirmed by the United States Senate that year and became the first Hispanic to serve in that court. He served as Chief Judge of the court from 1994 to 2001 replacing Chief Judge Stephen Breyer who was appointed an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Torruella has consistently been an advocate of Puerto Rican rights and dissented from a 2005 ruling that Puerto Ricans are properly denied a voice in the election of the President of the United States because Puerto Rico is not a State. On the bench, Torruella is considered to be a moderate. He has ruled in favor of abortion rights, including the First Circuit court's opinion in Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood.

Torruella is the author of the book The Supreme Court and Puerto Rico: The Doctrine of Separate and Unequal (University of Puerto Rico: 1988), a study of the Supreme Court's decisions in the Insular Cases.

Torruella helped declare the DOMA unconstitutional in Boston on May 31, 2012

On February 13, 2009, Torruella wrote the opinion in Noonan v. Staples, allowing a suit for libel to proceed because even though the statements at issue were true they reflected "actual malice".


Torrruella holds a degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. He later received his law degree in 1957 from Boston University School of Law. Additionally, he holds Masters Degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Puerto Rico.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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